Hudson ISD has decided to cancel online learning and have students return to face-to-face instruction after data showed students and staff were struggling.
"After extensive review of student progress, we have determined that remote instruction is not feasible for most of our remote learners," Superintendent Donny Webb wrote in a letter to parents and staff. "Likewise, the added burden of a dual system is not sustainable for our staff. While many of our students have recently chosen to return to the campus, 11% of our student enrollment have chosen to remain in the remote system. Only half of these remote students are being successful. We simply cannot afford the risk of academic failure, where over 100 students are likely to be retained for the school year or lose essential credits for graduation."
Remote instruction was not a requirement by the Texas Education Agency or the state during the return to class after the pandemic. Rather, the TEA put together options for school districts to offer.
Hudson's decision comes after Huntington ISD and Zavalla ISD made the switch at the beginning of October. Like Pineywoods Community Academy, Hudson had previously merely encouraged parents to bring their children back from virtual learning if they were struggling, rather than requiring it.
"We have supported parent-choice as required if both systems of learning are being offered," Webb wrote. "We are not allowed to simply require certain students to attend on-campus instruction. We cannot pick and choose who can opt for remote learning. If we offer remote learning, any student may choose that format regardless of their success rate. We have urged parents to seriously consider the academic risks versus the health risks of our students."
This decision is not isolated to East Texas schools. Across the state, school districts are ending distance learning because of poor engagement from students.
“Our first five weeks of school, 2% of our of on-campus learners were failing four or more on-campus classes," Navasota ISD Superintendent Stu Musick said in a KBTX Navasota article. "But we had 25% of our at-home remote learners that were failing four or more classes, and that’s significant.”
Administrators say they have a responsibility to instruct students to the best of their ability, and that is in the classroom. A national survey by ClassTag of more than 1,200 kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in March found that most teachers believed they were not prepared to facilitate remote learning.
Districts are now required by the TEA to provide 14 days notice to parents of decisions like this, so the last day of optional remote instruction will be Oct. 30.
"It is Hudson ISD’s belief that face-to-face instruction is far superior to that of remote learning," he wrote. "On-campus instruction remains the most appropriate method for academic success, social and emotional growth, and what we believe to be in the best interest of students."
Failure to return to campus without evidence of the parent's choice will result in immediate truancy action, Webb wrote. He provided several options to parents who are still not comfortable with their child returning to campus:
*Request a transfer to another Texas school district with remote learning
*Withdraw the student to participate in a homeschool environment
*Enrollment in the Texas Virtual School Network
The district will, however, continue to provide educational opportunities to students who are required to quarantine or self-isolate from COVID-19 exposure or infection.
"Please contact your child’s campus office concerning his/her return to campus. Each campus will be able to answer questions regarding this transition, scheduling, protocols, and other requirements," Webb wrote. "Hudson ISD is committed to the success of all students. We look forward to the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year."